Angry Capital One CSR Closes Account For Asking Too Many Questions, Then Hangs Up On Customer

As much as we complain about customer service reps, it’s wise to remember that they hold the advantage when it comes to your account. We don’t know whether our reader Chris was too rude to his outsourced call-center buddy or whether the CSR was just having a really bad day, but apparently things got out of hand when Chris called in to find out what was going on with his credit card account.

When I asked for more details, the representative (who sounded like he was from India), took vengeance on my account and told me he was closing the account and that there was nothing I could do. When I asked for his manager, he said “There is nothing he can do, the account is closed.” —CLICK— And that was the sound of him hanging up the telephone.

Chris says the CSR didn’t even read him any account closure notice first.

All Chris was trying to do was find out why his account still showed $0.00 available credit when he’d recently paid off his balance in full—and why he can’t get a credit line increase when he’s had an excellent history of repayment.

I waited until about 8:40 AM to check the online account status and noticed that the available credit was still $0.00, despite what the representatives have told me. Frustrated with the vitriolic representative and the available credit still $0.00, I called the Capital One corporate offices and spoke with the executive resolution team and had them remove the account closure notice. I was also informed that the reason that I still had an available credit of $0.00 was that there was a “ten-day hold on the funds.” Angered that the funds had already been withdrawn from my bank account and not disbursed into my account, the executive team was able to override the hold and disburse the funds into the account, but only after calling the executive team a second time as the first person would not do it.

Chris points out that he’s been an “excellent” customer for Capital One, particularly because he pays off his balance in full every month. We hate to dampen your spirits, Chris, but that may not put you in the prime customer category—credit card companies love people who carry high balances and generate lots of revenue in interest rates and assorted late/overlimit/cash advance fees. You might be better off just looking for another offer elsewhere that promises you a greater limit up front.

(Photo: Getty)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. Bladefist says:

    “Chris points out that he’s been an “excellent” customer for Capital One, particularly because he pays off his balance in full every month. We hate to dampen your spirits, Chris, but that may not put you in the prime customer category”

    Yea, reminds me of the last consumerist post of a tell-all. If you don’t make them any money, you’re not a good customer and they don’t care if you go. I’m sure its all on their screen, and you have an index, and ya. However, they absolutely do not have a right to be this rude.

  2. Laffy Daffy says:

    Exactly! If you don’t carry a balance you are dogsh$t as far as the credit card companies are concerned.

  3. Luis says:

    Not to derail, but why add the line “(who sounded like he was from India)”. Do we really expect better customer service in the US?

  4. JRock says:

    Both Citi and Discover must hate me today because I finally paid off all of my credit card debt today! I had that debt for years (since before college). I am so excited that I had to share it with the Consumerist! :)

    After reading this, I think I’ll be afraid to call them for anything though.

  5. bologna_wallet says:

    @Luis: Representatives from Indian call centers rarely comprehend the English language and typically cannot think outside of the box for problem solving.

  6. NoWin says:

    @JRock: +1 to you!

  7. kublaconsumer says:

    I would expect that the companies want to have customers whether they pay off balances or not. They also make fees from the retailer when the card is used. But, yeah, if they close the account, then look elsewhere. I would have asked it to be closed at the first sign of trouble.

  8. billbillbillbill says:

    Congratulations JRock!! 2 more months for me then I am debt free and Chase can kiss my a$$!

  9. sir_pantsalot says:

    @JRock: You are most likely in good standing due to the amount of interest you paid over the years. They still value you because they are wanting you to rack up the debt again. If you don’t then they will hate you.

  10. chrisjames says:

    @kublaconsumer: They’re still losing money from the customers that don’t keep a balance. That’s what happens when they play numbers games and offer such good deals, like low APRs and rewards programs, and still have to pay the cost to open and service a line of credit. It balances way in favor of the card issuer, but they can still tip the scales further (short-term) if they cut off the “bad” customers. We might see another credit crash in the future when behavior like this comes to bite them in the ass.

  11. timmus says:

    Since when has Capital One given great customer service? That’s the one credit card company I wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole.

  12. induscreed says:

    @bologna_wallet:

    representatives in India speak a version of british english that two intensive weeks of american accent training can change only so much.

    They dont speak Americanese and their accent is not american so most Americans have trouble understanding them and viceversa. There are cultural and tonal nuances that get lost in transalation and get misinterpreted as aggression or a lack of enthusiasm.

    Most english educated Indians would probably outspell and outgrammar your average American school kid. (OK I can’t back that up!, its probably more anecdotal)

    Your misplaced hatred should not be at the poor indian guy who is college educated and just trying their best like you and me to make a living but probably at senior management that decides to outsource or probably the quality assurance team that gauges their accent training and analyzes the metrics for customer satisfaction and again the people who approve those numbers.

    Its just really easy to blame the brown, smelly, accented, third world guy that seemingly took your job away. I guess thats only human.

    Now don’t go picking on my grammar, spelling and debating semantics. English isnt my native language.

  13. wring says:

    @mractor: wow “native ENGLISH speaker”. sry bb but i’ve met/spoken with native speakers with worse comprehension or grammatical skills than ESL speakers. just because they’re native doesn’t always mean they have the skrills.

  14. chrisjames says:

    @mractor: Since there’s no rigid policy on accountability in either country’s call centers, then no it doesn’t really matter where they’re located. And the fact that it’s difficult to differentiate between an ESL or “keyword” rep and an incompetent American makes the differences even more negligible. Scapegoating won’t fix the problem; they’ll just hire American bums to do the jobs. Outsourcing at all, even in the US, and topsy-turvy QA is the problem.

  15. freejazz38 says:

    Out of all the banks I deal with, and I deal with the big ones, Capital One is the WORST when it comes to CS. The WORST. That’s why I cancelled my Big Hassle Miles card about a year ago. They suck

  16. soloudinhere says:

    Well, the problem I usually have with speakers from India is that the INFLECTION of the words is all wrong. Part of how we interpret words is the inflection, and when the emphasis is in the wrong place, the word doesn’t sound like that word to us.

    It’s just a consequence of their native language, but I work with people who have been in this country 20 years who still have the heavy, heavy accent that I can’t for the life of me understand. I try, but I often just can’t get it.

    “you put the wrong em PHA sis on the wrong syl AB el” if you will.

  17. WiglyWorm must cease and decist says:

    @JRock: Not at all. They’ll probably raise your limit and lower your interest rate without your even asking as they attempt to get you to make a big purchase on the card and carry the balance for years again.

  18. Jbball says:

    I’ve had a CC with Chase for a few years now. Due to idiocy, I ran the balance to the max and it’s hovered there for 2+ years. I’ve finally found myself in a situation where I can do something about it, and I’ve gotten the balance down to ~$800. The rest of the balance will be paid in full once I’m done closing on my house, and if Chase refuses to lower my APR from the default (29.99%), I’m going to fucking blow up on them. I will not accept an APR anything higher than 8-10%. Fuck credit cards, credit and all these assholes getting rich off us.

    I’ve finally smartened up and I’ve got the tools to change my future. Everything will be paid with cash and the only credit I’ll use is for houses/cars.

  19. balthisar says:

    I almost never carry a balance on my Citi. And the thing is, I really think they value me as a customer (on paper, not as me, “balthisar” in the human sense). I’ve only ever had to wait in the hold queue one time; other than that, I always get an operator. Wanted to buy cabinets that would cost way, way over my credit limit. “Sure,” they said, “it’ll go right through.” They properly identify fraudulent activity, even if sometime’s I have to call the collect number from overseas. I’m not trying to be a pimp for them, and it’s the only business I do with them, but they do seem to recognize that I’m bring them some profit given that I charge almost everything on this card. What’s their cut of the merchant fees, after all?

  20. Orv says:

    @Luis: Most companies seem to give U.S.-based reps more ability to escalate problems. Their foreign call center reps seem to mostly be limited to following scripts. I doubt its the representatives’ fault, I think it’s just policy at most companies.

    I think there are also potential problems with having people handling sensitive financial information who are outside the reach of U.S. law.

  21. Orv says:

    @balthisar: I didn’t use my Citi card for two years — for anything — and they didn’t cancel it. (I had other cards with a better APR, and Citi wouldn’t budge on lowering it.)

  22. Shutaro says:

    I blame Comcast.

  23. Dobernala says:

    Its a bit of a myth that people who pay off their balances do not make the CC companies any money. They do get a cut (how much, I don’t know) of the processing fees that are charged to merchants who accept credit cards.

    If they didn’t want you do be a customer, they would have terminated you on their own accord – there is nothing that is stopping them. If Chase is not making money off of me, despite paying me rewards, why are they keeping me around? Obviously there is some profit in having me as a customer.

  24. MisterE says:

    Just a typical example of conglomerate enterprises hiring the most disqualified people to interact with the public. If I were Chris, I would simply call back and find another CSR to keep the account open (if that’s what he wanted). Although it’s a shitty way of going about it, he actually did Chris a favor by closing the account. There’s too many credit card companies that are willing to gouge him with high interest rates, unrealistic terms and fine print you need a PhD in law to decipher.

  25. Capital One has horrible service. We’ve seen that here many times. If Chris wanted to pursue this, there should be some type of audit trail of what rep closed the account without his permission.

  26. More and More, AmEx looks more attractive. Sometimes, membership has its privileges.

  27. chrisjames says:

    @mractor: You really should stand up for that and say I’m wrong, otherwise there’s nothing there to indicate that any arbitrary US call center will be any different from an arbitrary overseas call center. The name/rank/serial number policy is as much a myth here as it is anywhere else. One big difference is when you call customer service and don’t get an outsourced call center but actually get the company’s offices. You’ll likely get the kind of treatment you’re talking about. But outsourced call centers in any country, even the US, are not designed around accountability, but around numbers games, i.e. placation and diversion.

    I think you’re just confusing outsourcing as only outsourcing to other countries. There’s plenty outsourcing that stays within the US as well, and it’s all crap too (mostly, the Consumerist has posted stories about rogue call centers that hopefully aren’t myths) it’s just more common to hear about those in India.

  28. jennieblue22 says:

    About the “Indian” thing – it’s not likely, as Indians tend to (try to, anyway) please the customer in constant fear of getting fired at any given moment, although there are exceptions of course. That is why no one in my family will EVER work as a CSR for ANY American company.

    Also, Indians do speak a variant (accented of course) of British English, and tend to misspell (at least to the average American) phonetically, since that’s how most Indian languages are – phonetic. That’s why English spelling is the hardest to learn – it’s not phonetic at all. Also those “two-week” (more like three-day) POS training sessions don’t really help. At all. They don’t teach American English, just a (failed) pronunciation technique.

  29. SacraBos says:

    @Luis: Maybe not better, but understandable. I had to call AT&T today, and I just had a hard time understanding him. Also, everything I answer a question, he said “That is correct” like I was on Who Wants to Be A Millionaire. Of course it’s correct.

  30. bleh says:

    @Shutaro: AMEN

  31. SacraBos says:

    @induscreed: “Its just really easy to blame the brown, smelly, accented, third world guy that seemingly took your job away. I guess thats only human.” Bad day at the Call-Center? Wow, where did that come from?

  32. chrisjames says:

    @mractor: Oh poo, I think Consumerist ate my response. Well, the gist of it was that outsourced call centers in the US are no different from outsourced call centers in other countries. They’re not designed around accountability and customer service, but around placation and diversion. If you’re getting that kind of service, then you’re probably contacting the company itself. Outsourcing anywhere is the problem, not just to other countries.

  33. GoPadge says:

    @timmus: There’s a credit card company you would touch?

  34. Juggernaut says:

    if I cold weigh in on the language issue – there’s some senior citizens native to SC, GA, parts of FL, MS, etc. that I can’t understand at all!!

  35. ludwigk says:

    @kublaconsumer: Credit card companies refer to customers that pay their balance in full every month as ‘Deadbeats’, because they make almost no money off of them. About 25 years ago, Banks made their money by holding consumer savings, then lending that to larger institutions and profiting off of the margins on that loan. Lending was provincial and regulated because each state had its own maximum interest rate.

    This changed in the 80s when it became legal to “export” your interest rate across state lines, which exploded the consumer credit industry into the insanely profitable industry it is today.

    Credit card companies make all their money off of predaotry lending to risky customers who make minimum payments, carry high balances, and pay lots of fees. It doesn’t matter that this segment of their customers is where nearly all of their defaults come from, it is still responsible for practically all of their profit.

  36. @induscreed: WTF? “Hatred”? The guy simply stated that it is often the case that Indian CSRs have more difficulty with comprehending (American) English, and often are limited in their ability to address problems or scenarios outside of the narrow script on which they are trained. From this you infer that he hates foreigners, is a racist, or has a protectionist mindset? Your diatribe is misdirected and more an indication of your own desire to advance an agenda than to address bologna_wallet’s comment. “indu-screed” indeed.

  37. Coelacanth says:

    @Luis: Hate to burst your snarky bubble, but I do expect better customer service from the US. Outsourced call centres tend to strictly follow company policies and seem to have limited ability to reverse charges and fees.

    That, and the language barrier really makes a difference.

  38. glorpy says:

    Let’s see:
    A per-transaction flat fee from the retailer
    A per-transaction percentage fee from the retailer (with higher percentages for cardless charges and reversals)
    A per-card reader flat purchase fee from the retailer
    A per-card reader flat monthly administrative charge from the retailer
    A per-contract co-branding fee

    They make decent money even if you pay off the card on time every billing period.

  39. DallasPath says:

    I had to call into dish network today (somehow I’m missing like 8 channels, which are of course the channels I had wanted to watch) and got an American call center BUT the first person I talked to had an almost indecipherable accent. She finally transfered me to ‘Tom’ who spoke like my next-door neighbor. My programming problem was solved in a matter of minutes thanks to him….BUT I wasted over twenty minutes with the first girl because I couldn’t understand her. And I tried very very hard to understand her and just couldn’t.

  40. smythe says:

    @chrisjames: “They’re still losing money from the customers that don’t keep a balance.”

    I’m not sure how you figure that. I charge 3-500 a month on my credit card (mostly for rewards) and pay in full every month. Most CC companies get 2-3% from retailers for using their service. So figure $6-10 a month, with all the electronic accounting systems I cannot beleive it costs them more than that to have my account open and send me an email once a month telling me how much I owe.

    Of course I’m not as lucrative as the people who carry balances, and this doesn’t account for my rewards. But I’m pretty sure they still come out ahead.

  41. ClevelandCub says:

    @mractor: I’m sorry, but chrisjames is not wrong. I think you have outsourcing and offshoring confused. My company uses both solutions to augment our employee based call center representatives, and we hold both companies accountable. Our offshore agents are in the Phillipines where they speak a more American verison of English, which is one of the reasons that we chose to go there instead of India. Additionally they receive the exact same training as our US based agents, and the systems are managed by the same internal teams as our US call centers (I should know I’m one of them – on the technology side mind you). Our US based outsourcing is used mainly for high demand specials like promotions to get customers to sign up for credit cards, and are not used for customer service calls so they don’t require the same product kowledge and are normally just helping customers fill out an application.

  42. fullofIT says:

    While Capital One off-shores much of IT, all customer service agents are in the US. There is not an Indian call center. The CSRs with Indian accents are closer than you think and likely to be your neighbor. Hang up and call back, but you might get Bubba who was lucky to get his GED.

  43. Nighthawke says:

    When you call into Indian Territory, you are largely at their mercy and the scripts they ride. About the best bet to resolve this one would be a Grade-AA EECB right at the execs, preferably aimed below the belt.

  44. RandomZero says:

    @mractor: You really, really couldn’t be more wrong if you tried. Chrisjames is making massive (and very often incorrect) assumptions as well, but “outsourcing” refers only to a company sending some portion of its business to an outside supplier. Dictionaries call you a liar, and so does the company I work for (an outsourced customer service provider).

    As for your claims of nothing but vilest lies spewed forth from the black demon-pits of non-American call centers, let’s examine them in detail.

    First, what is an “American-sounding” name? This annoys me every time I see it. I work with non-Americans whose real names are things like Steve and John. I field calls daily from Americans with names I literally cannot pronounce correctly.

    Second, even in the centers I’ve seen that let you use an alias, it’s registered in the system and on paper with your signature next to it. I’ve seen people bum-rushed out the door same day because QA caught them trying to sidestep this.

    Third, I’ll admit, I’ve had bad days and given customers flack. mea culpa. I also got yannked off the floor unceremoniously and chewed out for it, because they did in fact have my real name and ID. (I have since improved markedly, addressing another point you tried and failed to make.

    As for the bit about getting a sup’s name – you’re right, I wouldn’t give that to you. Because it changes depending on scheduling, typically halfway through my shift. I’ll let you speak to him or her if you ask, though, and you don’t even have to ask nicely.

    And location? I’ll give you a location, inasmuch as our rather tight site security policy allows. (Typically, this means a city and no more. I can’t be blamed if you think it’s in Virginia.)

    I am an outsourced AND international call center representative, and the only black lies I see are coming from you.

  45. RandomZero says:

    @mractor: Nowhere near as cute as your strawman. Maybe I waxed on a little about your accusations, but I certainly wasn’t angry when I wrote that and don’t see it on review. Regardless of my mood, my points stand. You’ve been as wrong as can be on every single assertion you’ve made, and your blissful ignorance of any if the particulars of the industry, as well as of the English language, makes me question your claim to have been on this end of things. Try again.

  46. sean77 says:

    @Luis: It’s necessary because a surprising number of consumerists are bigots.

  47. RedSonSuperDave says:

    When I call a so-called “customer service” line, the ONLY way the guy on the other end of the phone can provide me with any “service” is if he understands me perfectly and vise versa. When he needs me to spell complicated words like, “David” and “Florida”, or when I can’t make out what he’s saying, he’s wasting my time, and is useless to me.

    Not to mention what a horrible idea it is for those guys to use aliases. When somebody with an accent so thick I have to struggle to understand him tells me that his name is “Steve”, I just naturally assume that he’s lying. Great, make the first sentence I hear from a representative of your company a blatant and transparent lie, that’s getting our relationship off to a good start.

    I guess that makes me a bigot.

  48. Aisley says:

    “…if it is an American company, US based reps can usually be held to better accountabilty.”

    Really? Have you been at Best Buys? Comp USA? Khol’s? Bed Bath and beyond? In 2004 I went to Best Buys to get a computer armoir. Once there I asked a clerk if the had it in “cherry” finish. I’m still waiting for her to come back from the back of the store with the info. On the other hand, every time I have had an Indian call center answer the employees have been very polite; and in some instances, when needed, they have gone above and beyond what was necessary. And on closing, Indians do understand English very well. It is India’s national language!!! We are the ones with the problem, maybe because their accent is quite British?

  49. RetailGuy83 says:

    @smythe: No, most national chain accounts are paying around 1.35% for gateways plus a couple of fees which add up to about another .5%. The fees and the margin off the gateway go to the gateway service provider. The actual percentage that is shared across the banking industry is around 1.20%. Then Visa gets their cut. And then finally the merchant bank gets their cut. About .2 – .4%.

    Banks make money of credit cards by playing pot odds (if you understnad poker) Even if the odds are against you on a particualar bet if the pot is big enough you will make money the long term. (Medium risk for High Profit Potential) If you make enough bets like this the law of averages grants you a porfit in the end.

    But people who dont leave a balance or over-limit transact or cash advance, dont generate enough revenue to cover the cost of servicing the account number on the grid. Especially if you are buying “just for reward points”.

  50. the_wiggle says:

    @jennieblue22: what a perfect & perfectly depressing description of the Hell known as call center CSR/MSR. . . .

    i actually don’t care where the damned center is or who’s answering the phone . all i care about is can they fix the issue the 1st time or not.

  51. SacraBos says:

    @RandomZero: There is nothing wrong with out-sourcing per se. As long as it isn’t your core competency, business out-source all kinds of things. After all, I’m an IT Consultant – basically out-sourced IT support. However, if you out-source, make sure you are not doing a dis-service to your customers in the process.

    “First, what is an “American-sounding” name? This annoys me every time I see it.” Entomology. Cooper is an English name (historically, someone who makes barrels). Nygyen is not an English name. Most people have names reflecting where they were born, and often, reflective their native language/accents/dialects. FOr instance, Cletus, while English, is not something you would expect as a name from someone with a strong Bronx accent, either. When Apu says his name is Steve, and I can barely understand his pronunciation of “Steve”, I get incredulous.

  52. sventurata says:

    @Orv: I went looking for guidance on how American financial organizations are legally compelled to protect information, regardless of the country it’s sent to, but all I could find was the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. Does anyone know of more recent consumer protection legislation (similar to Canada’s PIPEDA)?

    @fullofIT: Incorrect. There’s a Capital One call centre in southwestern Ontario that takes American calls.

  53. edrebber says:

    If you charge $500 per year and pay your balance off every month, Capital One breaks even on you. The real money losers are people who have an account and never use it or the people who default.

  54. colorisnteverything says:

    I was a Capital One customer and while I am a student, I have excellent credit on any level. So, I pay off my balances, have a loan that is ALWAYS paid in full, and have had my card for 3 years. I called Sunday to see if they could increase my credit line and the lady I talked to PRETENDED to look an see if they could then said, “no, we can’t. We’re a conservative lender… blah blah blah”. She wasn’t really rude, I just was pissed off that I couldn’t be approved for an increase to a 1k limit! I now have applied with HSBC for a credit limit even HIGHER than that. It’s just plain BS, you know?

    The lady did say that I would have a better chance being pre-approved for another card with Capital One. I told her that if I couldn’t get approved with this account, I could and WOULD not open up another line of credit through them.

  55. Dobernala says:

    @colorisnteverything: HSBC refuses to up my limit on my Orchard Bank card above $750. Everyone else is giving me $5000 limits. I want it on the HSBC card because its a rewards card.

  56. purplevix says:

    Half the time I have to call Capital One to get them to lift the hold they put on my money for no good reason. After hitting 0 twice on the main menu to get a person (the fraud option on the menu is not what I need), I ask for their fraud department, which, by the way, is US-based.

    After I get off hold, I ask them to lift it. Since my account is new (less than a year old), they have to put me through to a senior rep to do it. In the past, it’s just a matter of going “Oh okay, the hold is lifted, blahddy blahddy” but the last time the girl had to call my bank and make sure the funds were there. (I could show them on the bloody web banking thing that the funds were gone, rawr)

    So yeah, it’s a hassle and a half, which may or may not be a situation I created, because I make several smaller payments as I get paid as opposed to one larger one at the end of the month. It’s my way of making sure I don’t get a neg balance.

    But I really don’t have anywhere else to go, because no one else will give me credit. (22 y.o. female college student without loans on their first credit line, was just boosted to $500) I can’t even get overdraft protection on my checking account or any kind of financing through Dell, Radio Shack, Circuit City, and the like. Which is my biggest problem with getting my new laptop. I can only coddle my Dell 700m (512 RAM 40 HD) from 2003 for so long.

    And yes, I am fond of parentheses.

  57. mythago says:

    @purplefix, consider a secured credit card, or going through a credit union.

  58. Vanguarde says:

    I see nothing wrong with this.

    Would you spend more time with a customer who is just browsing your store not making you money, or a person who seems eager to buy high priced items, asks lots of questions like on how to care for such item if he/she buys it, etc.

    If you say the person who is browsing you are a bad store owner.

  59. kbarrett says:

    @glorpy: There is no such thing as “enough money” for these folks.

    Credit Card companies hate people who pay off balances every month.

    They want nothing to do with the rich or with smart middle class folks. They make the most money off of poor people who screw up and eat penalty fees, followed by people who carry big balances.

  60. Rusted says:

    @RandomZero:Ah no. I had the misfortune of dealing with an Indian call center and their English I understood. My English is a mixture of Mid Atlantic, Southern, and Mid Western dialects. The did not understand me. Funny that I used to work in a NOC and all my fellow Americans and most Canadians could understand me. New policy, don’t deal with furriners….